Friday's Orality/Rhetoric Lesson
Varner, William. "The Didache's Use of the Old and New Testaments." The Master's Seminary Journal 16:1 (Spring 2005), 127-151.
Varner observes that the Didache has attracted a great deal of scholarly attention (Varner 2005, 127), which has captured the imagination of the scholarly world, especially outside of the broadly evangelical world. He suggests that evangelicals would do well to examine the work carefully, especially due to its manner of using Old Testament and New Testament materials (Varner 2005, 128). Varner is particularly interested in both the linguistic and the hermeneutical use of canonical materials in the Didache.
The Didachist may be understood to cite only Matthew's Gospel out of all the writings of the New Testament (Varner 2005, 130).
Varner briefly explores the way we understand citations, quotations, and allusions, following Aune's article in The Westminster Dictionary of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature (395) (Varner 2005, 130). Varner provides a chart of Didache references to Matthew's Gospel, worthy of further investigation (Varner 2005, 130-131). He finds that most of the quotations are from Matthew 5-7 and 24-25. The exceptional quotation, in Didache 1:5a seems more similar to Luke 6:30 than to Matthew 5:42 (Varner 2005, 131). The conclusion reached by many in the scholarly community has been that the Didachist's references to "the Gospel" are references to the Gospel of Matthew as a written work (Varner 2005, 132).
Varner notes that there are "differences in detail" between the Didache and Matthew (Varner 2005, 133). He suggests that these differences may reflect the desire of the author to capture the ideas but not necessarily the actual language used in an existing text, a habit which can be found in many of the Fathers. As an example of this, Varner cites Didache 8:2, the Lord's Prayer, in comparison with the UBS Greek text from Matthew (Varner 2005, 134). The differences are quite minor. Varner further discusses the brief statement, "Do not give what is holy to dogs" from Didache 9:5 and Matthew 7:6, which is identical but for a movable nu (Varner 2005, 135).
The Didache's "Two Ways" narrative in chapters 1-5 may be a reference to non-canonical material, such as that found in 1QS. Varner, however, does not find the arguments for actual dependence on parallel materials to be convincing (Varner 2005, 136). The idea of dualism may be valid, but Varner thinks it more appropriate to see the passage as an articulation of the concepts of Matthew 7:13-14 (Varner 2005, 137).
Varner observs two actual citations of the Old Testament, starting with Malachi 1:11, 14 (Varner 2005, 138). The reference is found in Didache 14:3. The Didachist uses the passage to urge a pure offering to God in contrast to defiled sacrifices (Varner 2005, 1239). The other Old Testament reference, in Didache 16:6-7, cites Zechariah 14:5 (Varner 2005, 140). The material here bears a strong similarity to the content of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew 24-25.
Varner concludes that the Didachist consistently looks to the Scriptures, inclduing Matthew's Gospel, as canonical authority. He did not engage in the sort of allegorization common in the second century (Varner 2005, 141). The goal of the work is to pass teaching which the Lord had given to the apostles on to an audience of Gentile converts.
Varner continues with a translation of the Didache. In this translation he inserts a record of scriptural references (Varner 2005, 142-151).